Gardening Australia | 2021 | SERIES 32 | Episode 19 | My Garden Path
We meet visionary architect Paul Haar whose approach to creating homes for the future is guided by the landscape and sustainable materials.
Paul's career has been informed and enriched by his voluntary engagements outside mainstream architectural practice, cultivating various community based building and other environmental projects.
In 1980, he became an active founding (now life) member of CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) and his community based building work commenced in a voluntary capacity at Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust in 1983.
In 1989, together with three neighbours, Paul formed Victoria’s first farm tree group, the Archies Creek Reafforestation Group. Teaming up with local farmers and supporters from both the city and the bush, they reafforested bare paddocks between Westernport Bay and the Bass Coast with some 400,000 locally indigenous trees and shrubs, recreating a nature corridor that’s still regarded as one of Victoria’s finest from such work. This also seeded his now ongoing engagement with Victorian agroforestry networks of graziers who also plant trees for timber.
These experiences, and the success of his initiatives with timber specifications for Candlebark School and Mullum Creek, inspired Paul to encourage CERES to launch a new social (not-for-profit) enterprise CERES Fair Wood.
CERES Fair Wood removes itself from the adversarial forest debate and often opaque timber certification schemes, aggregating and retailing timber inside short and transparent supply chains. It buys only wood sourced to the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility, as informed by Mullum Creek. This wood comes from small local tree farmers and sawmill operators who are geographically dispersed and otherwise struggle to find, sell and deliver to a green market that fully appreciates what they have on offer. Fair Wood shares their stories directly with its customers, building and landscape contractors, furniture makers and DIYers. This business builds direct friendships and understandings between city and country folk and encourages farming families to diversify to treeplanting and silviculture for conservation and profit. These days, Paul continues to support and mentor the Fair Wood community in its lively growth as a CERES enterprise.
And Paul was the first and remains one of only three commercial growers of feijoas in Victoria, supplying CERES Fair Food and other local organic fruit retailers from his Wilhelma Farm.